Cameron Dugger shot 4-under-par 68 to finish at four-under 140 and capture his first college tournament victory
ELIZABETHTON — The way the Milligan College golf team finished its fall season, it’s no wonder the Buffaloes can’t wait for the spring to arrive.
Playing on its home course, Milligan dominated the Appalachian Athletic Conference fall championship, finishing 22 strokes ahead of runner-up Tennessee Wesleyan at Elizabethton Golf Course.
Led by individual champion Cameron Dugger, the Buffs put together the lowest 36-hole total in the program’s history, finishing 15 under par (561).
“It was really exciting to watch these guys,” Milligan coach Tony Wallingford said. “They all played their best golf at the same time. Put those rounds together, that’s when you get those kind of results.”
Dugger, a freshman from Happy Valley, shot 4-under-par 68 to finish at four-under 140 and capture his first college tournament victory. He beat teammate Josh Gambrell (69) and Reinhardt’s Ben Dulin (70) by one stroke.
“It means a lot to me to play this well at our home course,” Dugger said. “I’m very happy about that. It means so much to everybody, defending your home turf. It’s huge. You have all the pressure. People expect us to shoot good here.”
Joining Dugger and Gambrell in the top 10 were teammates Simon Treeby at 143 and Mitchell Sutton at 145. Milligan’s Nick Kyte had a 66 in the first round, but struggled to an 81 on Tuesday and finished tied for 11th.
All five Milligan players broke par in at least one of the rounds.
“The expectations were high for us here,” Wallingford said. “To fulfill those expectations was a different story. In a big tournament, for us to play our best golf, that was great.”
Dugger says he didn’t play his best golf, which made his performance even more impressive. He got off to a rough start in the first round, going two over par through 14 holes. He battled back and played his final 22 holes in six under par.
“I struggled the whole tournament, but I just never gave up,” Dugger said. “I grinded all the way through. I never made it easy on myself, but I almost made every putt I was supposed to make, which is big for me because I’ve been putting really bad.”
Wallingford was especially pleased to see Dugger grind out a win.
“Cameron made some progressions mentally in the fall,” Wallingford said. “He’s handling adversity better. This was a manifestation of his new approach mentally. I’m real excited for him. His inability to overcome adversity earlier in the year was holding him back. I was really proud of him. The last couple of tournaments we’ve seen progress.”
Reinhardt University finished third at 588, followed by Union College at 591. There were 11 schools in the field.
This tournament is part of a two-tournament event to determine the AAC regular-season champion. These scores will be added to the spring conference tournament, tentatively scheduled for Bears Trace at Cumberland Mountain.